Electoral Dysfunction


I stayed up until 5:15am when the result was pretty much known for all watching and for the worst aspects Trump support to be crowing during interviews with two horrible plastic looking Stepford Wife soccer mom types being less than graceful in victory it has to be said. Disheartened I retired to bed and attempted to get some (even fretful) sleep before the morning commute and the inevitable heated discussions on the result.

So at the risk of sounding patronising I’d like to say to my American friends on FB whom I think I know well in some cases, less well in others but enough to guess where your vote landed, from a Brit who was devastated by Brexit (which this is drawing parallels with in some media) and who has had to put up with snidey, borderline Anglophobic comments from Canadian tourists (of all people!) hinting that all Brits must be closest racists and close minded bigots due to that outcome, that we know.
We know this doesn’t reflect everyone in America political views, we know how shocked and greatly saddened you must be, we know that you might even be worried about any possible verbal (or worse) backlash when abroad or being judged for simply being American as if Trump being elected is therefore your fault alone but hey listen, for what its worth here’s a virtual hug and assurances that a section of ‘out of touch’ woolly, liberal Britain understands perfectly those sentiments for broadly similar reasons. Its a bad time to be a liberal either socially or politically it seems as though the extreme voices on the right or for bigotry appear to be on the ascendency across the globe pandering to distrust, fear and outright hate and it can all get rather depressing when you view it in a wider context.


Try not to fret too much my dears, far easier said than done I know, but you have many friends in the UK (and soon no doubt in the rest of Europe) who can relate to being both cast as the ‘loosing side’ at home and then feeling like the ‘bad guys’ when abroad as well- maybe we could start a support club? Anyway I for one still love you and America, the America at least I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing and experiencing first hand and I will always smile and share a friendly word should we ‘political exiles’ bump into one another and we can grumble and quietly seethe together over a coffee.


On one note of a possible ‘sliver lining’ though it’s certainly seems like its going to be a good time to be in a punk band and have something to kick against. Small comfort I know but it’ll probably be more convincing and urgent than the ‘rock against Bush’ scene ever was.

Manic Pixie Dream Police

BT Police

One of the few places in the city that you’re guaranteed to see police actually doing something akin to patrolling is on the Railway station, good old fashioned British transport Police are usually highly visible and in their custodian helmets often look far more like genuine police officers than their high street counterparts who for the last ten years have been busily engaged in hanging ever more and more militaristic looking gear from their black webbing belts and donning ever more ‘tactical’ American looking SWAT inspired black clothing so as to now resemble something more akin to gendarmes than approachable Bobbies (which is just one of the many reasons I suspect that a greater level of suspicion & divide exists between the mainstream public and the police now.) If you want to see some law enforcement personal who actually look something like the sort of Police we had been used to seeing in this country then apart from the BT Police it’ll probably be the Community Support Officers who look the least threatening and who seemingly are more engaged in old fashioned boots on the beat community policing efforts nowadays. So negative have reviews been to the current military image of the police in many forces that one banned their officers from wearing the jet black shirts which had been previously favoured by the ARUs and instead they continued to wear the more traditional white shirts for a time.

police uniform shirt changes

Anyway, its an odd comfort seeing BT Police stood guard, they also seem far more approachable for such daft tourist/commuter enquires as where the nearest cash machine to the station might be or even the current time and directions. Although yesterday I found their sheer numbers more perturbing than a comfort, something seemed to be up and we had Transport cops patrolling the station environs and standing guard in pairs at all the entrances with grim faces and arms folded.

This image of stern unblinking taciturn professionalism was rather ruined somewhat by one female police officer sporting a faded orangey/red Mohawk haircut with her uniform… maybe I’m old fashioned but c’mon, surely having a Mohawk haircut is slightly going outside the norms of uniform regulations and being taken seriously? Also if you’re the sort of person who enjoys having a brightly coloured Mohican or variants of punky hair-dos then what the heck are you doing in the police force anyway? I seriously doubt she was bringing it down from within…

Given the choice; in any sort of dire emergency I’d much rather be making a bee line to the lowly Community Support Officer bod than any cop I spot with a f**king crazy coloured ‘funky’ hair cut!
Jesus people, show some bloody professionalism in appearance. I mean what are you? A Manic Pixie Dream Cop or something? If there’s one place where a ‘kooky’ outlook and an idiosyncratic approach to hair styling is not needed its in the police force surely?

Bloody bad enough when pictures of that Hipster copper with the waxed beard started turning up.

For interest here are the offical regulation concerning hair for one force in the UK, most Police Forces have their own but all seem pretty similar and that includes those for the BT Police:

‘4.4.1 Hair.
It should be clean, neat and tidy. It should be worn so that it is cut or secured above the collar and ears and presents a professional image. Hair motifs, colour, patterns and extreme styles are not appropriate and should not prevent the wearing of headgear.’

So again I wonder how she managed to get away with a brightly dyed mohawk? Sorry to be a party-pooper.

Tsk indeed frankly.


Who Really Remembers Britpop?

“Can you remember what you were doing at the height of Britpop? Perhaps you were running the country? Bands like Damon Albarn’s Blur furnished the soundtrack to the early Blair Years, ‘Cool Britannia’ and all that’.
(Steven Smith)

Er? No, except they didn’t did they?
Britpop was at its zenith between 1992-1995 (at its peak around 1995’s Oasis Vs Blur feud) all firmly within and during the Conservative years of John Major’s government and by the time Blair gained power in 1997 and attempted to co-opt the sound and cool factor for New Labour propaganda it was, as a scene pretty much on its way out and maturing into something quite different in the face of mainstream media hype and anyone who used the term ‘Britpop’ to describe their musical tastes in ’97 would have been seen as being rather naff and possibly a bit of a poseur than a fan. 

britpop fight
It’s true though that both Pulp & Blur released what I think are their best albums of that scene around that period. Pulp with the wonderful ‘This Is Hardcore’ in ’98 and Blur with ‘Blur’ in ’97 but that was a last surge of creativity as things seemed to come to a natural halt with the bands who’d been slogging away and ever changing their style since the 1980s C86 shoegazing movement, then hurriedly through both the ‘Grebo’ & ‘Baggy’ fashions. Some clearly worn out after the slog of getting onto Top Of The Pops and noticed by the NME long before the Britpop craze reached its peak, others were keen to shift indie on into other areas and reinvent themselves for a new decade such as the a more clearly ‘rock’ based sound which was finding favour during a resurgence in the generic ‘Alternative’ music scene which would dominate for most of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Pulp Blur

Most of the leading lights of ‘Britpop’ actually split up in the years 1997/1998 (their ranks include such stalwarts as- Sleeper, Lush, These Animal Men, Menswear) so it can hardly be said that Blair rode in on a wave of Cool Britannia rather than he attempted to go for a paddle as the tide was going out. I’m not sure where this myth originates but I think it could very well be with Blair, after all New Labour were brilliant at self-promotion and smarmily latching onto things which seemed to offer some semblance of credibility with the young voters. Or maybe we remember it that way because we’d like to think that the biggest explosion in creativity and self confidence in a sort of British identity for the modern age which whilst nostalgic was undeniably ‘now’. For a time we couldn’t go wrong in everything from fashion, music, film (Trainspotting springs to mind), art (the YBA’s ‘BritArt’) and even Comedy, touted as being the ‘New Rock n’ Roll’ at the time oddly enough. Maybe we’d  justrather pretend that it didn’t happen under the watch of a Prime Minister so characterless he was often portrayed as having grey skin and a nerdy voice by the Spitting Image to the cartoonist Bell. So Blair got all the glory and in the process he possibly killed Britpop, without anything to kick against anything approaching the angst which often sees a rise in such creativity soon fizzled out as Noel Gallagher supped champers with Tony and Albarn legged it to Iceland for a bit in a sort of self imposed exile.

Politicians of any stripe pretending to know or care about pop culture are just as embarrassing as the shyster talking heads for hire and self professed street culture experts who propagate these half remembered things as facts on TV items and thoughtful articles (such as this one).

blair and brown britpop or shit pop

As for what I was doing during Britpop, well for the latter half I was pretending to be at Art College whilst doing very little to be creative and wore the then appropriate ‘Indie Kid Uniform’ of charity shop long black overcoat, clumpy boots and floppy home cut fringed hair.

Commuter Blues: part 2 The Bus.


hello kitty bus2

Do you ever get public transport and look around to see the designated ‘bus nutter’ and find yourself thinking: ‘There for the grace of God go I”? I did during the first half of today’s journey.
First ‘nutter’ was a nervy, weasel like thing who kept fidgeting and switching seats with such regularity that I’m afraid my sympathy for them had run rather dry by the time we got half way through the commute and I was seriously tempted to hurl them off the bloody bus at the very next stop.
After they got off a huge guy lumbered on-board in the worst looking, most ill-fitting tiny wig I have ever seen! It didn’t even begin to match the colour of his remaining hair at the sides and looked as though it had been made from some sort of ginger plastic fibre as it shimmered unconvincingly under the light. At one point we went over a hump in the road and I swear it spun around full circle. I had to chew my parka’s hood to stifle the laughter which I just couldn’t contain anymore.
Thankfully he got off a few stops from where he had caught the bus but then I found that once I’d started giggling I couldn’t stop, from nowhere the lyrics from Big Bottoms from the film Spinal Tap popped into my head for some unknowable reason and as the refrain of ‘The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’ ‘ looped in my inner voice I almost choked trying to remain still and quiet in a dignified manner.
I just know that the guy sat behind me was thinking: ‘Oh Christ! Why do I always get the Bus Nutter sat in front of me!’

I’m pretty sure that if you’re forced to get public transport for the right amount of time everyone has to do their stint as the ‘Bus Nutter’ at some point.

Far more wrong than Wright.

Well I was rather disappointed to turn on the TV as background hum soundtrack to my hurriedly getting sorted to leave this morning to discover that one of my favourite poets was a pundit on the bloody dire Wright Stuff. Murray Lachlan-Young a man once hailed as the enfant terriblé of the performance poetry scene and for bringing it back into vogue after its previous heyday of the angry, shouty, affected working class voiced agitprop 1980s now reduced to reading out tabloid headline stories to a baying phone in audience and a group of imbeciles in the studio on loan from Jeremy Kyle.

wright stuff

At first I didn’t quite recognise him, I was sure it was him but the doubt was caused more by how different he looks now.
Long gone is the Byronesque hair of curly locks, gone the dandy-ish almost gothic dress sense and toned down the fruity rich sounding thespian voice instead to present a sort of slightly nondescript figure on yet another panel magazine show. He now has the look of a shabby ‘minor celeb’ about him but one which most people probably would find hard to place. Think Jona Lewie with a hint of B. A Robertson. It oddly enough saddened me as when I met him (admittedly a few years back now) at some hippie-dippy counter festival to Glasto. He still cut the same svelte Modern-Romantic figure that he had done back when I first got into his stuff by watching on various late night ‘youth’ programming back in the 1990s and I have to say he was really very lovely by the way, a true gentleman and gave a lot of time to the people gathered for signings after his performance.

Murray Lachlan Young Gothic

Of course, his dress sense and appearance on this show doesn’t and shouldn’t have any bearing in his art or his great wit (after all we all change with time and what might have once worked for us might seem to distract from the whole package) and he’s never stopped performing live in venues where he’s fondly known and well received but to see him now on a TV show like The Wright Stuff… well, for whatever reason it made me sigh quite heavily a fair bit over my toast and coffee to be honest. He is an acquaintance of long time Wright Stuff panellist Steve Furst and has performed poetry at cabaret nights in which Furst compares as the wonderfully entertaining ‘Lenny Beige’ so maybe its a favour, a filling in a slot. Sadly even his prodigious talent couldn’t make the show interesting (well, for me at any rate) and to be honest I doubt he has a lot of chances to chuck in a verse or two. Still to quote Mr Bell: “A Gigs a gig” and I’m sure he has bills which need paying same as all of us.Just a bit odd seeing such an important and really very exciting figure from my teens, he was the first poet to reportedly sign a million quid record deal remember, swiftly dubbed the saviour of ‘punk’ poetry dragging it into the pre-Cool Britannia 1990s with his acerbic and very funny observations and fantasies, the focus of much rubbishing by tabloids such as the Daily Mail sort and even making a blink and you’ll miss it cameo in the British film Plunkett & MacLeane (in which he is by far the most interesting person in it and which seemed to have led to a minor side job in acting) Now to be seen on such a tedious, provincial and truly humdrum phone in opinion show for the next week.

Murray Lachlan Young Plunkeet and McLean

Now I’ve managed to make it sound like I’m an utter snob I can only hope to redeem myself by suggesting everyone who reads this goes out and search for his work (and especially his joyous children’s book) to see what a rare talent he really is. Much more than the 1990s headlines and any possible schtick which the press attributed to him but a true eccentric and talented voice. In an age where the pained adopted mannerisms of Performance/ Street Poetry are easily parodied and cliché we need figures like him to stand as beacons of nonconformity for their fluidity of speech, articulate manner, outlandish storytelling, dramatic readings and dare I say it also for the virtue of being a little bit ‘posh’ in an age when so many poets artificially ‘dumb down’ and adopt some garish ‘street’ style of faux-hip hop posturing.


Hurrah for MLY I say. (less said about The Wright Stuff the better though)

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